I wouldn’t go so far as to say destroyed, but there are many river ecosystems in the US, such as the Mississippi and Missouri River, that have been changed by a huge degree, mostly for the worst. The idea is that large segments of the rivers have been reservoired or dammed while other segments have been transformed into agricultural land. This changes the amount of water that flows through the rivers, kills off animals, and adds unhealthy levels of sedimentation to the rivers. Both the Mississippi and Missouri are undergoing recovery.
I’d agree with phillius that “destroyed” is a very strong word, and no US rivers are in danger of that.
On the other hand, much of the upper Clark Fork river in Montana was indeed pretty thoroughly destroyed – essentially all life killed in the river and adjacent wetlands – by the effluent from mining at Butte and smelting at Anaconda from the 1870s to the 1980s. The good news is that expensive ($1 billion +) restoration and remediation are working, and the river has largely come back to life – trout fisheries, wildlife refuges, etc. The work is not done, but it is accomplishing excellent results.
A lot of rivers are in danger of being placed in jeopardy of being eliminated but none of there quite yet. The use and abuse of these natural resources are really what may cause their elimination in the future.
Unfortunately we don’t quite understand that if one aspect of an ecosystems is sent off balance, the entire ecosystem will suffer. Because of this we place a lot of weight on these types of places and the rivers will only be able to take so much.
This is definitely an issue we must keep in mind for the future of these locations.
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